JERICHO, Vt. -- In the mountainous terrain of northern Vermont, where temperatures drop below freezing and the snow covers the landscape, Marines were pushed to their limits as they battled against the extreme winter weather.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, pushed through frigid conditions as they participated in the two-week exercise Nordic Frost on Camp Ethan Allen, Jan. 13-27, 2018.
The goal was to improve the unit’s environmental capabilities by testing their squad and fire team level of defensive tactics in a winter environment.
“These Marines were in the deserts of Morocco last year,” said Capt. John A. Faucette, the weapons company commander of 1st Bn., 24th Marines, 4th MarDiv. “This year, up here in northern Vermont, in very mountainous, snow covered terrain, they have done very well. We exposed the Marines to the cold weather by conducting live fire ranges, and various other exercises to include small unit leadership. They took the training that was given to them, wore gear properly, stayed warm, and were able to fight.”
This cold environment adds additional training to the operations the Marines would otherwise not see in warmer weather conditions. Leadership at all levels must ensure that all training was conducted in a safe manner. The Marines conducted exercises such as land navigation, marksmanship training, demolitions, call-for-fire training and other core competencies.
“Ultimately, our success was defined by safety,” said Maj. Husein N. Yaghnam, the battalion operations officer with 1st Bn., 24th Marines, 4th MarDiv. “Marines are only effective if they are safe and capable, and we have the health in the field to complete the mission. So my guidance, down to the company commanders, was to be taking care of the Marines.”
Safety is accomplished by knowing how to properly operate in the weather. The Marines were able to safely train and stay warm after instruction on how to properly employ their cold weather gear.
“It’s was down in the negatives some nights, and the Marines had to stay out in the field,” said Faucette. “Utilizing the gear and the training that was given to them shows that we can still function and fight as a battalion, no matter what the conditions are. My company spent a couple nights out in the field without issue. The Marines continued to perform like they would if they were in a warm environment, or something that may have been a little more comfortable than the extreme cold.”
Experiencing the cold weather training gave the Marines the confidence to trust that no matter what the conditions are, their equipment and gear, from weapons to warming layers, are effective in any clime and place.